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Friday, 19 August 2016

Summer Reads 2016: Kate

Pond - Claire-Louise Bennett

A series of twenty short stories told from the perspective of a reclusive female narrator. Her soliloquies of varying lengths range in tone from deprecating and wry to wistful and introspective as they animate the minutiae of her rural existence. A very tranquil read, recommended for those who like Lydia Davis.

Double Teenage - Joni Murphy

Two girls grow up in the desert. In lovely and melancholic prose, Murphy captures the suffocation of girlhood's ritualized growing pains with haunting precision. The story chronicles Celine and Julie past adolescence into their adult lives. Invoking ghosts and magic spells they try to discern why our culture has so many stories about dead girls and how the desert became a place for Western projections.

Margaret the First - Danielle Dutton

You may know Danielle Dutton as the founder of Dorothy Press, a small publishing project with a focus on inventive fiction by women. Her own novel which came out earlier this year reflects on female writing through the figure of the iconic Duchess, Margaret Cavendish. She wrote prose, poetry, philosophy and science at a time when women only published anonymously, and her utopian romance The Blazing World is one of the earliest examples of science fiction. In Margaret the First, Dutton gives a very intimate perspective, taking full artistic license to imagine the inner workings of her private life in a style I can only describe as luscious. 

Eric Rohmer: A Biography - Antoine de Baecque and Noël Herpe

Rohmer's idiosyncratic films, full of long, naturalistic conversations about life and love, are really perfect summer fare. With the release of his biography, the first, I see a golden opportunity to read-along-to-a-watch-through of his entire filmography, and I can't wait! From Rohmer's beginnings as writer, the eventual editor of Cahiers du Cinéma, to making his first film at age thirty-nine this book promises to illuminate the man and his unusual methods behind the movies I love so much.

Can You Hear Me? Music Labels by Visual Artists - Francesco Spampinato

Providing a history of the intersection of music and art, it gives a survey of record labels from 1980-2015 run by visual artists. Through chapters like "diy and lofi", "public selves and private stages", or "artifacts and ephemera" it contextualizes various projects into the wider spheres of art and music movements covering artists ranging from Chick on Speed, Destroy All Monsters and DJ Spooky to Kalup Linzy and Johanna Billing. In the era of "dematerialisation" of books  music these artists continue to produce vinyls, battling the hegemony of pop and creating their own media reality.

The Blonde Woman - Aidan Koch

This nice short format comic, out recently on Space Face Books, contains Koch's beautiful ethereal drawings. Hands make a braid, play with grass, dial a phone number. Some panels are empty except for one word written in majuscule: "OH,". These small gestures have a way of pulling me directly into the scene, while the loose interplay of narratives - getting lost in the night, voyaging through dreams, juxtaposed with a washed out reality - sets my mind adrift.

Wandering Island - Kenji Tsuruta

In the spirit of Miyazaki's adventures, Wandering Island is a story about a young woman who runs an air delivery service with her cat and a vintage seaplane. It takes place in Japan's sleepy small island communities hundreds of miles out into the Pacific. When she finds a parcel from her late grandfather with an unknown address, she learns about the wandering island. Legend among sailors, it is said to endlessly drift and disappear. With dangerous determination she sets out to find it at any cost!

Beverly - Nick Drnaso

Offers a slice of suburban life through six entwined short stories that are often uncomfortable and disturbing. Despite being a quiet book, reflected through its muted pastels, there is an undercurrent of repression simmering beneath the surface. One story portrays a woman's disappointment participating in a television programming focus group when she realizes she won't really be part of the "decision making process". Another story depicts an alienated family on vacation through the hallucinatory fantasies of the youngest teenage boy. Through this dark material Drnaso always renders his characters' suffering with dignity as he illustrates the complexity of their flat world.

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